Raith Rovers 2 Arbroath 0: Davidson says he was ‘aggressive but fair’

Raith Rovers' Iain Davidson.

Raith Rovers defender Iain Davidson helped his side end Arbroath’s long unbeaten away record at Stark’s Park.

Davidson’s combative style saw him targeted by away fans but the veteran centre-back, who wore the captain’s armband, gave it back with a 2-0 gesture on his way down the tunnel at half-time.

The 33-year-old insisted, however, that it was all good natured.

First-half goals from Lewis Vaughan and Jason Thomson sent Raith five points clear at the top of League One and handed the visitors their first away defeat in 13 months.

“We take plenty stick but they don’t like it when they get it back,” Davidson said.

“It was a wee 2-0 gesture, there was nothing in it.

“I don’t think they liked the fact that I was aggressive and winning a lot of balls, but I was just doing my job.

“They maybe felt like I was persistent fouling, whereas I felt I was being aggressive but fair, and I thought the boy Denholm was going down a bit too easy.

“If they are giving it out, I’ll give it back. It’s just friendly banter.”

Davidson admitted he was lucky to avoid a first-half booking for a late challenge on Mark Whatley, but he was cautioned soon after for a melee following a challenge on Vaughan by Colin Hamilton.

“I wasn’t happy and was trying to protect our ball players and ended up getting booked for running 30 yards,” he said.

“Our creative players are always going to get more treatment because of the type of players they are, which is no problem as long as it’s fair.

“But I just felt at times with Lewis they’ve been a bit over the top and I’ve reacted, not in a good way, but it’s just what happens when you’re trying to protect your team mates.”

Davidson is part of a Raith defence that has conceded just five goals in nine league games, jointly the best in the country alongside Celtic, and the Kirkcaldy side were made to work hard for their clean sheet.

The visitors made a strong start with Thomas O’Brien forcing a save from Graeme Smith inside the opening minute, before Danny Denholm struck the bar from six yards after connecting with a Ryan McCord free-kick.

At the other end, Greig Spence was denied the opener by a late offside flag after he touched home Vaughan’s effort just a yard from the line.

The deadlock was broken in the 32nd minute when Vaughan grabbed his 17th goal of the campaign, turning in midfield, driving into space, and firing low into the corner from 22 yards.

Five minutes later Raith doubled their lead when full-back Jason Thomson sent a header past David Hutton from Vaughan’s corner to score for the fourth time in six games.

Arbroath put up a fight in the second half but the Raith defence was rock solid, and a handful of saves from Hutton prevented the hosts from extending their lead on the counter attack.

Raith boss Barry Smith said: “It was a scrappy game and, for as much as we got the two goals, Arbroath put us under pressure.

“We defended very well and probably, on the other side of it, could’ve maybe done a wee bit better going forward.

“But we got the goals at good times.

“There’s a lot of positives to take from it, and a lot to look at as well.”

Arbroath boss Dick Campbell was disappointed to lose the unbeaten away record one day short of 400 days.

“Raith scored against the run of play at a crucial time,” he said.

“Then they scored from a set-piece, and I can count on one hand the amount of times we lose goals from set-pieces.

“I’m quite frustrated at losing our record to two soft goals like that and, although we had a lot of the ball, I don’t think we did enough to take anything from the game.”